Today I’m sharing how I, a legally blind mum makes pancakes for my family using the ‘One Cup Pancakes’ mehtod.
Happy Pancake Day! In non-Covid days (remember those?!) children would be running down the street clutching a frying pan, as they flipped their way towards victory in the annual pancake race… Actually, I don’t know if pancake races are just an English thing (let me know if the comments if they happen in other countries too), but wherever you live, tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday. Of course I respect and appreciate it has significant and spiritual meaning for my Christian friends, but to me, who spent a non-religious childhood growing up in England, Shrove Tuesday means one thing – pancakes!
I feel this is a good time to make the distinction between English pancakes, thin, light and delicate, served with butter or lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar and American pancakes, our thicker, fluffier pancake counterpart accompanied by bacon and maple syrup. Both are delicious, but for me, Shrove Tuesday is about Englsh pancakes (or just ‘pancakes’, as they are called back home!). So my friends in the US, prepare for an all round lighter affair. The batter is thinner, more like the consistency of cream, rather than cake batter, and the result is a pancake so thin that you can almost see through it (if you can see, of course!).
My friend Lou used to make the most amazing pancakes, with every filling you could imagine, for our group of friends on this day each year. However life (and thousands of miles of ocean between us) has meant this tradition came to an end. So, I had to grow up and make my own pancakes. This is the recipe I settled on. If you follow my blog, you know i prefer recipes which don’t require scales as I can no longer see them, and talking scales, although fantastic, are a bit of a faff. When speed and simplicity are the goal, my pancake recipe of choice is the ‘One Cup Pancakes’ method. As the title suggests, you need one cup. It can be a one cup measure, or an average-sized mug. This is the tool used for the minimal measuring involved in this recipe. It’s so simple and for me, so far, works every time. I hope you enjoy it too.
Makes 6-8 large pancakes
- 1 cup plain or all purpose flour
- I.5 cups milk
- 1 large egg (or 2 medium or smaller eggs)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or any flavourless oil)
- Pinch of salt
- Some butter for frying
- A cup or a mug
- Mixing bowl
- A half cup measure, ladle or jug
- Non stick frying pan
- Use your cup to measure the flour and add it to the mixing bowl. Use the same cup to measure the milk and add that to the flour. Add all the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl and whisk together until there are no lumps. Aim for the consistency of thick cream. You can add more milk if needed.
- Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes if you have the time. If not, just skip this step.
- Heat a non stick frying pan on a medium heat and melt a small knob of butter (or you could use cooking spray).
- Spoon or pour some mixture into the pan and immediately swirl the mixture around to cover the base of the pan and fill in any holes. How much mixture you need depends on the size of the pan. I find it useful to use a half cup measure to scoop the mixture into my 10 inch pan. After some swirling around, I find this amount makes a nice thin pancake in a pan of this size. It doesn’t have to be exact, but the half cup measure gives me an idea of how much mixture is going in the pan. If you don’t have one, a ladle will also provide consistency in the same way. My sighted friends could just pour the mixture from a jug until it looks about right.
- Fry the pancake for 1-2 minutes on the first side and flip (or carefully turn over with a spatula if you prefer), and cook for another 30 seconds – 1 minute on the second side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm while you cook the rest. Then fill, serve and enjoy!
A visually impaired pancake flipping technique
I use a wide spatula and run it all around the the bottom of the pancake to make sure it isn’t stuck anywhere. Then I slide the spatula under the pancake and lift it very slightly off the pan. I can feel if the weight hanging off the sides of the spatula is vaguely even. If I feel like one side is much heavier than the other, I lower the spatula, reposition and lift it ever so slightly again. I repeat this until I feel the weight is more equally distributed, meaning the spatula is (roughly) in the middle of the pancake. Then I lift it higher, trying to keep the movement vertical and not move the spatula to the side, then quickly flip the spatula over whilst lowering it to the pan again. I find this technique works for me, if the pancake is sufficiently cooked on the first side and the spatula is a wide one. It also helps to have a good non stick pan so the pancake doesn’t stick, so you don’t get a split or holey pancake. The actual flipping movement is quick, but controlled and it’s quite a small movement. You don’t move your arm very much, because you want to keep the pancake in the same spot, so it lands centrally in the pan. It is easier to flip a pancake that is not too thin, but of course you don’t want a pancake that is too thick so it’s a bit of a balance and may take some trial and error to make a pancake thick enough to flip, but thin enough to still be a proper English pancake!
A note on serving:
This is really for the benefit of my non-British friends. I think most British people have their own preferred way of serving pancakes, but I was surprised how baffled some of my American friends were at the sight of the large, flat, discs I presented them with, and the distinct lack of bacon. Firstly, (English) pancakes are usually served with a filling then folded into quarters. The fillings can be anything really, sweet or savoury, the most traditional perhaps, being a squeeze of lemon juice with a sprinkling of sugar. A simple drizzle of honey is also delicious, my kids like chocolate spread and sliced banana and if it is for dessert, vanilla ice-cream and fresh strawberries is another tasty option. Use your imagination and the world is your oyster! Let me know your favourite pancake filling in the comments.
I hope you enjoy your pancakes and as always, thank you for reading.